Newcastle easily won the game on Wednesday night against Birmingham City, but the score should never have been just 2-1 with 20 minutes to play and that ‘s what comes when you have chances to go 3-0 up and you don’t take them.
Newcastle have to kill teams off when they dominate the play so much – that’s an areas we have to improve as the season goes on.
Rafa played three youngsters on Wednesday night – Dan Barlasar, Yasin Ben El-Mhanni and Stuart Findlay – as he rested some first teamers for the important league game against Rotherham United tomorrow afternoon.
Stuart Findley – impressive display from the 21 year-old center-back
Of the three we were particularly impressed with 21 year-old Scot Stuart Findlay who played well alongside Scottish International Grant Hanley in central defense.
When Grant plays like he did against Birmingham we wonder why he’s not starting regularly for Newcastle, but then there’s the in-form and impressive Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark …..
Findlay looked a sold defender on Wednesday night and he has a cultured left foot and his distribution was excellent throughout the game, although he took no chances either.
He was obviously helped in the game by the experienced Hanley, who always shows good leadership skills whenever he plays.
This is what the impressive 13 times capped Scottish U21 International had to say after the game on Wednesday on the Newcastle web-site:
“It’s everything you dream of. After getting a call to say you’ll be training with the first team for a few days, you think you might get on the bench, or you might get five minutes.”
“So to be given the news that you’re starting and then go out and win an FA Cup tie for Newcastle, it doesn’t get much better than that,”
“Yasin and I came in at the same time, so we’ve been on the same journey. But, Dan (Barlaser) and I have grown really close as well, and at the end of the game, we gave each other a big handshake.”
“It means a lot to have done it together and we can all be proud of ourselves.”
“The manager said he just wanted me to keep it simple, be relaxed, be aggressive, and I felt I just tried to do everything he told me to do.”
“I made sure I kept my passes easy and worked my way into the game.”
“Once I got into the game and got a bit of confidence, I felt I could start playing more as I can do, and hopefully he was impressed with how I did.”
“I’m obviously a passionate Scotland fan, and Granty is the main man for Scotland at the back.”
“He was incredible. Just the experience you gain in that 90 minutes alone – he gives you things you could never learn from training or read in a book.”
“It’s all about the experience of playing with somebody like him. It was perfect for me.”
“Once you get a taste of it once, you want to be back out there, but I’m not looking ahead to anything.”
“If I need to play the next game for the 23s, then I’ll go out and just do what I’ve been doing.”
“If I can keep doing that, you never know when your next chance will come.”
“It’s all about doing it at whatever level you’re playing at, and trying to impress. The manager obviously has a big selection of players, and there are a lot of injuries at the moment.”
“So maybe there’s been a bit of luck to get me involved in the first place.”
“I’ll just keep doing the task I’m asked to do no matter what the level is, and whatever comes my way, I’ll try and succeed.”
Stuart is worth watching and he could be challenging for a first team spot at Newcastle sooner than we think if he keeps improving under Rafa Benitez, who must have been impressed with the youngster’s cultured and calm performance.
We signed the 6ft 3ins tall player in the summer from his home town club Celtic, after they surprisingly released him.